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Sunday, September 8, 2019

posted Sep 8, 2019, 6:41 PM by Site Administrator



Genesis 1:26-2:3

Key Verse 1:26


Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.


In the previous passage, we learned God’s proclamation of His creation in Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Also we learned that after each day’s creation was over, God shared his testimony saying, Good.But after creating man, he said, Very good. Man was created especially great manifesting the eternal quality of God very well.Today’s passage covers the creation of man in detail. In this passage, we learn why God said, Very good, after creating man. May God bless this worship service and open our eyes to see what kind of beings we are.


First, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...(26-27). Look at verse 26. Let's read this verse together:


Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.


When God wanted to create light, he simply said, Let there be light, and there was light. When he wanted to create the expanse, he simply said, Let there be an expanse, and it was so. But when God wanted to create man, He first shared his plan saying, Let us make man in our image….. To God man was very special. This verse shows that, before creating man, God had a plan of what kind of being he was going to create, what kind of job he was going to give to him, and how he was going to create him. So this verse is like a blue print for man. We are humans. By the way, what is a human? What kind of beings are we? Verse 26 shows that God created humans in his image, in his likeness. This simple expression alone, In God's image, in God's likeness, makes distinction between humans and all other creatures; it shows us what we humans are. We are God's creatures uniquely made in God's image and likeness.


What is image? Image is inner resemblance. For example, when I see Roberto, I am reminded of someone else, because he carries that person's imageGod created us in his image so that when other creatures saw humans, they were reminded of God - they saw God's image - that was God's original plan and purpose in creating humans. So, in the beginning, seeing humans or staying with humans or having time with humans must have been really a big thing to all other creatures - they could see God's holiness in their words and actions; they could see God's compassionate heart, patience and kindness through humans; they could see God's justice and righteousness in the lives of humans. All the creatures must have respected and honored and loved humans so much. Just seeing them was like seeing God Himself. When the first man Adam had the image of God, he was great, a very romantic person with great insight and wisdom. When God brought to him his wife, Eve, heimmediately recognized what she was - a beautiful creature made out of himself; so he defined her as wo-man, and made his confession of love right at the spot so poetically, saying, This is now the bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh…(Gen 2:23) He was great. But after committing sin, the image of God in him was damaged greatly that he could not love even his wife genuinely. So instead of bearing her weakness, instead of taking the responsibility of his wrongdoing, and his wife’s fault, he dumped all blames on her, saying, The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.(Gen 3:12) He became an ordinary person just like people we see everyday


We were created in God’s image – this shows us a lot about what God had in mind for us. Even though God is invisible, and even though He is completely holy, totally different from all the creatures, he wanted to make himself present among them through humans so that all might know him, revere him and render glory to him. God’s original plan was that we, humans, might be his representatives in this visible world, revealing his image to the world - his holiness, his righteousness, his sacrificial love, patience, kindness, compassionate heart, humility, and justice. He designed that his glory might be revealed in the lives of humans. Humans are to be that kind of glorious beings, so righteous and majestic in words and actions. This was God’s original purpose for humans. This is what God wants us to do – we reveal God’s image in our words and actions, in our life. This is our supreme duty as humans. 


That’s why Jesus encourages us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. That’s why Jesus encourages us to be really great, by humbling ourselves, by considering others better than ourselves, by serving others instead of trying to occupy higher positions, even by being a slave of all – that way, Jesus wants us to pursue true greatness – that way, God’s image may be revealed in and through oulives. That’s why Jesus commands us to love one another. The apostle John says, Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1Jn 4:7-8) What does it mean to love? The Bible says, Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it does not keep the record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1Cor 13:4-7) Think about you living in such a wonderful way – in your words and actions, you are so loving, caring, kind, gentle, meek, compassionate, thoughtful, understanding, humble, considering others better than yourself, serving, sacrificial, not self-seeking, not selfish, not proud, not rude,… You live that way at home, at work, at school and in the church. When you see anyone living in that way, how do you consider them? They are so great! As you live that way, being so mature and revealing the image of God, indeed you bring glory to God. This is what God wants us to do today and tomorrow in our day to day life. This is God’s original purpose for us, our supreme duty as humans in Jesus Christ. 


Being God-reminders, revealing God's image to the world is all mankind's supreme duty - the very reason why we are breathing today. But, due to their sins, many people end up exchanging the image of God for the images of reptiles and animals. Some people due to their cruelty carry the image of snakes - they remind other people of cold-blooded vipers. Some others remind us of pigs due to their greed. Originally, the animals were to love, respect and honor humans because they could see the glorious image of God. But now, instead of seeingthe image of God, they only see the images of reptiles and animals in them. That’s why lions and tigers become angry and growl at people and even want to devour them. What they wantto see is not the image of reptiles and animals, but the glorious image of God in humans. Romans 8:21 says that the whole creation has been groaning, waiting for the appearing of the children of God. Let’s live as the representatives of God so that God can be revealed to the world in and through us. Don't exchange the image of God for the images of reptiles and animals only because of your sins. 


God also made us in his likeness. Likeness is outward similarity whereas image is about inward resemblance. God created us in his likeness. It does not mean that God and us are the same; it does not mean that we are gods like Him, but it means that God and we have a certain similarity - similar characteristics that when other creatures see us, they are shocked, shouting, O my. You are like God! In what sense are we like God? What similarity do we have with God that we are like Him? In the Bible we see God being described as the Sovereign Lord, meaning He plans, decides and chooses. God created us to be sovereign beings just like Himself. Other creatures like cows or lions were not created in his likeness. They are not sovereign beings. For example, even though a lion may die for starvation, he never tries to eat grass; simply, it is unthinkable. A cow may die for starvation, but it never tries to eat meat; simply it is unthinkable. Five thousand ago, they lived that way, and today, exactly the same way - they simply live in the way programmed by God all the time. 5,000 years ago, what did the fox say? Hatee-hatee-hatte-ho! Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho! What does the fox say today? Hatee-hatee-hatte-ho!Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho! The same thing; they never change. Monkeys have never come down from the trees and tried to build 5 story apartments. 3,000 years ago, they lived on the trees, enjoying a Tarzan game, and today, they do the same, and they will do the same until God changes. But humans are different. We keep developing technology, music, and industry to make our lives better. 3,000 years ago, mostly people lived in one story houses, but now people have built tall buildings like Burz Khalifa (2,717 feet) in DubaiWe have developed airplanes to fly in the sky; we have developed boats and even submarines. We think, choose and decide as sovereign beings just like God.We are not programmed; we are not limited. In this sense, we are like God, and thereby, humans are no ordinary creatures. Never compare humans to monkeys, or pigs or sharks.  


God also says, Let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. As we studied in the previous lesson, God created the world in three domains – the air, the water, and the land, and filled these three domains with all kinds of living creatures, natural resources such as oil, iron or diamond, and natural laws. And now God created man so that man might rule over these three domains of the world on behalf of God. In other words, for this divine mission of ruling over the world, God created mankind. Shortly, for this job, or for this mission, God created us. If we omit this task from our life, then, suddenly we lose the meaning and purpose of our life, no reason to stay and compete with others any more. Without God’s mission, we have no reason to stay on earth any more. This is the reason why so many people suffer from the sense of meaninglessness, and even commit suicide. Some people think that only some special people like pastors and missionaries should serve God’s mission. But that’s not true. Collectively speaking, we, humans, were created for God’s mission, and if you think you are a human, then, you were created for God’s mission; you must accept God’s calling and serve His mission. Cows are there to provide milk and meat; that’s God’s purpose for them. Lions are there to hunt downother animals. As they obey God’s purpose, the food chain is maintained and everything goes well according to God’s plan. In the same way, we, humans must serve God’s purpose as well


Second, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth; subdue it; rule over (28). Look at verse 28. Let's read this verse together:


God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.


Now after creating men in his image, and in his likeness, God gave them his mission assignment, telling them what to do according to his creation purpose for them. About this mission assignment, verse 28 says, God blessed them and said to them.This makes us think about what God's blessings are. Nowadays, all people value money. So, when people earn a lot of money, they think that they are blessed. All people struggle to secure their life with a career job; so if some people have a career job, they think that they are blessed. People yearn for a happy family, so those who have a happy family are considered blessed. But these blessings are all relativistic. Some people have earned a lot of money, but their practical life is so miserable - very boring, having no direction for their life any longer, no motivation for anything in the world; instead, their life is corrupt with many sins and their children are spoiled terribly. When people have secured their life with a good career, they lose real spirit, and just go through the motion, without having any real passion or spirit - even Christians have the same problem. We must not pursue those things; instead, we must understand what real blessing is about and we must pursue it. Genesis chapter 1, verse 28, shows us what God's real blessing is about: here, we see 5 verbs, and they are all in command form – Be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over. This shows that God giving us his commands is real blessing. In what sense? God tells us what to do, and because of this command, we know what to pursue, and live for; having this clear mission, having this clear goal of life that comes from God is God's blessing. Because of this, our life has a clear direction, purpose and goal. We no longer say, I don't know what God wants me to do. We don't say, I don't know what to do with my life.


Many people consider God’s commands a burden, saying, We are free from the laws in the New Testament Period. They are really mistaken. God giving us his commands is real blessing. How will it be, if you don’t have God’s commands in your Christian life? What kind of Christian life will you live then? Maybe, going to church once a week, doing this for 40 years or 50 years, without having no real content of Christian life – such boring life – it is miserable. At best, you become a Pharisee, or you perish in that endlessly meaningless religious things. God giving you his commands is real blessing! God giving you a task to do, God’s mission, God’s calling is real blessing.


The first three commands - be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth - show us God's vision for humansThey carried God's image; they were great people, holy, righteous, and glorious, and God's vision was to see that the whole earth was full of such great people who revealed His image in their words and actions. As they increased in number, they would need the laws and regulations for their life in the community. Then, what kind of laws and regulations would they make? They were the ones who revealed the image of God in their words and actions; their views and understanding, their desires and hopes were so beautiful and glorious as God designed. Then the laws and regulations they established would also reflect God's justice and righteousness, God's holiness and beauty very well - full of justice, but at the same time, revealing God's compassionate heart very well. Maybe, their law would say, If you are very hungry, it is okay to pick some grapes from others' vineyard, but if you bring in a bucket into a vineyard, you are stealing and thereby, you are guilty. You must pay back the victim 120% of what you stoleand you have to bring a sin offering to God for the forgiveness as well. Maybe, their law would say, If you get a speeding ticket for Bible study, you can be forgiven; but if it happens continually, then you are guilty. When you live in that community, you would have nothing to worry about; you would be indeed free to love God and enjoy your life - such a community would be a dream country. God's vision was to see the whole earth filled with these people who revealed the image of God. God had indeed an amazing vision. Now, they had to pursue this vision in obedience to God's command - in that way, they would live a blessed life.


Then, as they pursued this vision of God, they might come to have some challenges and difficulties. What should they do with those difficulties and challenges? Subdue it. Rule over...Despite difficulties, they continue to pursue God's vision, wrestling with all challenges, and somehow overcoming them, and putting them under their full control. As they pursue God's vision despite all challenges and difficulties, their life becomes so dynamic, action-packed and powerful; their spirit is alive; and as they live this kind of dynamic, action-packed and powerful life, they are so happy and satisfied with their own life; their life carries real value and meaning, and they are truly satisfied. This is the blessed life. 


I really honor all our shepherds and shepherdesses. In this very wicked and adulterous generation, in which all people pursue money and pleasures, you refuse to live that kind of life. Instead, you struggle to love God and serve his flock. Indeed, such people are holy to the Lord. Then, God's vision is not that such holy people just remain in a small city, Gardena alone. Instead, God wants such holy people to be fruitful and increase in number - you would produce many more people who reveal the image of God, form a big community, fill this South Bay area, Los Angeles County, and the state California with them - a big community of people who reveal God's image to the worldOnce we fill California with such great people of God, then, God's next vision is to fill America and the whole world with disciples of Jesus. This is God’s vision for us. This is God’s will and command for us. As we pursue this vision of God, we may have some difficulties and challenges. But we don't despair; we don't shrink back; instead, we struggle hard to fight them and overcome them. At that time, we come to have many exciting, great, and glorious exploits which we can tell our children and grandchildren later, and which we can share with angels in heaven. Many mighty generals rise, mighty kings and queens rise among us, and God's glory is revealed. As you accept God's vision and pursue it, you are really blessed, and you enjoy a truly blessed life. In the year 2019, let's increase in number and fill our schools with Jesus' disciples. God blesses us and commands us, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the whole world!


Third, They will be yours for food (1:29-2:3). Look at verses 29 and 30. Let's read these verses together:


Then God said, I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food. And it was so.


Here, we see God giving humans their food - every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it will be yours for food. In verse 28, we saw God giving them his blessings, his mission assignment. He told them what to do with their life and what kind of life they must live and what they must pursue - be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the world. Originally, humans were not to be concerned about what to eat and how to survive, but they were to serve and pursue God's mission, and as they pursued it, God took care of their practical matters - food. Since God gave the humans all the fruits as food, they would just work hard for the task God gave them, then, when they were hungry, they would grab some apples and bananas and eat them, never worrying about storing up  foods in the barns, just like birds in the air, just like animals in Africa. When things went in the way God originally designed in the beginning, humans had no worry about the security or survival, but just focused on serving God’s work. 


Then, after Adam’s transgression, mankind developed anungodly society, and we were born into this world, and we are living in the society where we have to pay the bills to survive. In this situation, how should we deal with this security matter? This is a good question. This is not a small matter. God knows that we have this challenging matter. So, Jesus talks about this in detail in Matthew 6. The basic thing is that we should not worry about what to eat, what to drink, and what to wear. All the pagans who do not know God worry about such things, and out of fear and greed, they run after them. We Christians, Jesus’ disciples, children of God should not go that way. Instead, Jesus comforts us, saying, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Jesus never says, “Don’t worry about your career. You don’t need it.” But instead, he says that our heavenly Father knows that we need food to eat, water to drink, and clothes to wear, meaning God is going to help us with this security matter. Then, he gives us a clear direction of how we should solve this security matter, saying, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Instead of worrying about the security matter and thereby, doggedly pursuing it, Jesus asks us to give our first priority to serving God’s kingdom work and having the right relationship with God, saying that when we do so, all these things will be given to us as well. As we strive to serve God’s work wholeheartedly by faith, a good job that can support our mission comes to us. This is God's principle from the beginning. And even in giving humans food, God gave them what was best - all seed bearing plants and fruits for humans, while just green plants were given to all other animals and birds. Originally, monkeys were not supposed to eat bananas, but only humans. In this way, as you pursue God's mission all the way, God will give you very good career jobs, far better than the jobs your colleagues have. 


Look at Genesis 2:1-3. Let's read these verses together:


1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.


Now in six days, God’s creation was completed, and when God saw all that he had made, it was very good. He was so satisfied and happy with what He had done; it was so great that He wanted to celebrate his six days' creation. So He chose the seventh and made it holy. The word holy means set apart or simply different. In order to celebrate his six days creation, he chose the seventh day and made a distinction between the six days and the seventh day by not working on the seventh day – he did this much to celebrate his six days creation, showing how satisfied and happy he was. In verse 2, the word, rest is Shabath in Hebrew. This was the beginning of the Sabbath day. 


God issued a decree to keep the Sabbath day holy even in the beginning, showing that this is one fundamental thing we must keep absolutely. Actually, the Sabbath is one of the key themes that penetrates the entire Bible. Even in the beginning, God issued the Sabbath, and about 2,500 years later, when he established the Israel people and gave them his laws, one major thing that was emphasized among all 613 laws was the Sabbath – the Israel people would keep the Sabbath absolutely. Then, in the New Testament, we see the Bible talking about entering into real Sabbath, eternal rest. Hebrews 4:11 says, Let us therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. We are waiting forthe day when we enter this eternal rest. For the Christians in the New Testament, the Sabbath is Sunday worship service. Let’s keep it absolutely.


How can we have rest on the Sabbath? By not working at all, but sleeping for 20 hours on Sundays? That’s painful. How can we have rest on the Sabbath? There are two sets of the Ten Commandments – Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. They are identical word by word, except the fourth commandment, which is about keeping the Sabbath day holy. In Exodus 20, the reason why God asks us to keep it holy is because he completed his creation in six days. He wants us to participate in his joy of completing the creation of the heavens and the earthwonderfully in six days. When we remember God’s creation, when we remember how wonderfully and fearfully he created us, when we remember that he created all things good, we are really happy and thankful. There, at the worship service, as we give thanks to God and praise Him for his wonderful creation, we are renewed in spirit; we are refreshed and recharged to go and do his work continually. There, in thanking and praising God for his creation of us, we find true rest for our souls.


In Deuteronomy 5, the reason why God asks us to keep the Sabbath day holy is because of his salvation grace. When we remember how God delivered us from our slavery to sin, how he saved us from such terrible misery and brought us into this new life in Jesus, we are very happy and thankful. There, at the worship service, as we remember God’s amazing salvation grace upon our life and thank Him and praise Him, we are truly renewed in spirit; there, we find true rest. That’s how we can find rest in him. Keeping the Independence Day once a year is enough. Even keeping our anniversary once a year is enough. But remembering his creation and his salvation and thanking Him and praising Him is so important that God commands us to do it every seven days. 


We thank God for creating us in his image and in his likeness. God created us wonderfully and fearfully. Let's reveal God's beautiful and wonderful image as His representatives. God already blessed and commanded us to be fruitful, increase in number and fill the earth. Let's fill our schools and California and even the world with the disciples of Jesus. 


One Word: In God’s Image, In God's Likeness!